GONZALES — The Gonzales Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) met Sept. 20 to discuss their usual slate of actions to help facilitate attracting more visitors to town. Among them were talks on funding a couple of media buys that have the potential to reach viewers and readers across the state.
A proposal from Bruce Harboth of the downtown San Antonio Distillery asked the board to help pay for the broadcast that his rum factory would be appearing on, yoloTX. The $1,250 would pay for television time “featuring the town of Gonzales and the distillery” he said in a handwritten proposal. The primary purpose of the proposed funding would be for “tourism and advertising,” and Harboth said that an “unlimited” number of people would use Gonzales hotels because of the airing. He also wrote that a finished video would be provided after the airing of the program.
The program, yoloTX, is a “Texas lifestyle television show” highlighting topics of interest to Texans, which airs on 13 television markets on weekends. The show is basically “pay to play,” with potential subjects like Harboth expected to spend $5,000 to create a program which the show's media page says has a total value of $41,250 “based on social media earned, media value and brand awareness.” A formula for this amount was not provided.
The show does have a social media presence, with 8,443 people following their page on Facebook. A recent video from Sept. 16 featured Hill Country Distillers and had one comment, 9 shares, and 30 “likes.” The YouTube video of the same show had 34 views. Similar programming themes from Ironroot Republic Distillers had 25 views, a 22-minute show from Orange County had 38 views, and a missive from South Padre Island's Spring Break had 43 views. Several other videos had views in the tens-of-thousands and the yoloTX YouTube page itself had 201 subscribers. All stats are as of press time Wednesday morning.
The show is scheduled to air Sept. 29 on San Antonio's WOAI at 6:30 p.m.
During discussion, Tourism Director Clint Hille explained that the show's producers had cut Harboth a deal, offering to cut the original $5,000 fee in half after they decided to move up the original shooting date due to weather. The finished product includes a “usable video” that they could promote the town with. Hille said that it “seems like a very good deal.”
Members agreed and authorized the payment to Harboth in the amount of $1,250, which is one-half of the total he was charged.
The board also discussed an already authorized initiative that will pay $3,800 for four bloggers to cover the Come and Take It festival.
The four writers — or “influencers,” as the buzzword-friendly writers prefer to be called — curate independent blogs that are culled into the “Texas Travel Talk” website. The site says it is a “membership community for top travel influencers from the Lone Star State. Influencers are carefully chosen by their reputation and visibility, and are required to meet rigorous standards of professionalism and expertise.” Recent pieces include stories on San Angelo, waterparks, and Galveston's history and heritage.
“Influencers” are typically writers who cover a subject with the promise to relay it to their followers. Their reporting is usually of a personal nature, and they often expect to receive free goods or services for their write-ups or even payment in this case.
The bloggers attending are Sara Phillips of “Sensible Sara,” Jill Robbins of “Ripped Jeans and Bifocals,” Debra Muccio of “Finding Debra,” Traci Shannon of “A Star in My Own Universe.” They and two others that run the website will arrive to a welcome reception at Hille's Belle Oaks Inn bed and breakfast and will stay in four local lodging establishments for two nights.
The individual bloggers that will be visiting each boat a few thousand to several thousand followers on Facebook. They have anywhere from 10,000-35,000 followers on Twitter.
New board chair Dawn O'Donnell said that she would like to help compensate the lodges for offering up free rooms to the bloggers. It was said that the bloggers were supposed to visit during the July 4 festivities but were rescheduled to the busier CTI weekend, because that was the next available time that made sense. Because of the higher occupancy rates expected over CTI, reimbursing a part of the lodging expenses gifted by the businesses only made sense. And since the goal of the CVB is to promote lodging, it was only appropriate to reimburse them over this busy time.
Member Ken Morrow motioned to give up to $250 per blogger to the hotel or lodge in which they were staying. The board voted to accept the motion with member Barbara Crozier abstaining.